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At some point, we’ve all noticed that certain companies seem to grow and prosper despite outside challenges they’re faced with, while others constantly struggle. This is true in our own industry as well as just about any industry that comes to mind, regardless of market.

What causes this? What is the slight difference in behavior that produces better, more-consistent results? I’ve written about similar topics previously, but this month I want to remind us of a few things we all need to keep in the forefront of our minds in order to grow and prosper in the New Year.

Companies that thrive year after year have a clearly defined culture, which maintains the foundational belief that “Mediocrity is the enemy and needs to be destroyed wherever it is found lurking in this business!” How’s that for clarity? Most of us have been brought up in a society that appears to embrace mediocrity overall (and sometimes even rewards it).

I won’t get on my soapbox about the topic of victim mentality in this country, but it’s a defining difference among the most successful contractors I work with. They have a simple and well-communicated system that rewards positive results, leaving little room for victim-based thinking and mediocrity.

According to the dictionary, mediocrity is: “thinking or experiencing beneath your inherent right or privilege.” A long time ago, I realized that thoughts of mediocrity lead to self-fulfilling prophecies and experiences that are simply average. I learned that if I wanted to live an exceptional life, I needed to intentionally design it that way.

 I can clearly remember when I was in the U.S. Army and witnessed mediocre soldiers getting promoted before my peers and myself, even though we were more decorated with awards and had accomplished more in our careers to that point. However, that system wasn’t set up as a meritocracy where people were strictly rewarded and promoted based on their performance. The system was set up to reward longevity and time-in-grade, not performance.

This type of structure instills and facilitates mediocrity, not exceptional performance.

One of my good friends and clients who is a great contractor in the Los Angeles area was asked about being loyal to longer-term team members. It was funny to watch how his answer shocked the group he was speaking to when he said calmly, “I have no loyalty to anything but performance.” 

That may seem like a harsh answer. I know him well so I know he’s got a soft heart, but we can all take something positive away from his message. He basically stated that employees shouldn’t expect him to be loyal to them if they’re not going to be loyal to him through continuously creating their own effective results.

Heck, we don’t even keep score in children’s sporting events in certain areas of the United States anymore! What??? How are we supposed to know who wins and who loses? Oh yeah, I forgot. Everybody wins because they came out to play and got their juice and snack, right? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating that we create crazy competition in our youth. However, as these kids move into careers and lives where the score does matter, we need to be well-prepared to effectively lead this generation.

As business leaders we should be aware of how society is generally creating and accepting mediocrity these days. As a result, we end up hiring and leading certain team members who don’t understand peak performance, holding themselves to a higher standard or expecting to win every time they have the opportunity.


Aspire to the exceptional

We hosted four different public schools last year — training technicians on how to communicate more effectively, ask better questions and provide enhanced solutions for their customers. This improved skillset and mindset ultimately results in higher sales. I obviously believe in training and coaching, but also that we must view mediocrity as our nemesis. It’s one of the biggest enemies we have when it comes to growth and producing consistent results in our companies.

In order to overcome this enemy, we must realize that “good enough” is not good enough. It may be good enough for the average person, but it’s not good enough for you and me.

Studies show that the top 1% of Americans control 43% of our nation’s wealth, while the next 4% control an additional 29%. Think about that for a moment. The top 5% control more than 70% of this country’s wealth. This isn’t about wealth alone, but this is one area where we do keep score and need to understand it.

A huge reason for these statistics is that the top 5% constantly choose to eliminate the mediocrity from their lives and businesses that the masses allow to exist. You might think I’m simplifying this too much; I hope you do because it is that simple. Companies that continue to win month after month, year after year, accept nothing less than the very best from the people around them.

Do you want to improve your business? Eliminate mediocrity!

Do you want to make more money? Eliminate mediocrity!

Do you want better relationships? Eliminate mediocrity!

You can continue the list from here on your own, but I’m sure you get the point. In what aspects of your life and business do you need to challenge mediocrity? It’s imperative to do some soul-searching in order to uncover the areas where you may have become a bit complacent. This type of scrutiny is an ongoing growth exercise that is necessary for peak performance.

It doesn’t make you a bad person because you’ve allowed some mediocrity to creep in. It simply means you’re human. The key is to remain conscious enough to recognize mediocrity and eliminate it as quickly as you find it.

The quality of your life and income level will always be a direct reflection of the personal standards that you set and the results you’re willing to accept from yourself and your team. Mediocrity is the enemy and, given the chance, will kill your business growth. It’s your responsibility to hold yourself and your team to higher standards and not allow anything less than the exceptional results and growth that you deserve.